By Alex Shreeve
I am writing this letter as a concerned seventh-grade student at Oxford Preparatory Academy. I recently attended . Seven of the eight open forum statements were from parents or friends of OPA who pointed out the many injustices the school has been subjected to by CUSD. It is embarrassing that our school has to fight so fiercely against the very organization that two years earlier had unanimously approved its creation.
The various speakers all highlighted the recent cheating accusations that were all rejected by an independent inquiry. The anonymous accusation that OPA cheated, and the silence from CUSD in defending the school, was a big blow to the entire OPA community.
As a result, several angry parents challenged CUSD on this point and demanded that the inquiry results be made public along with a statement of recognition from the district. Subsequent to the meeting, they did issue a rather weak statement recognizing the achievement.
It is shameful that it took a public forum and angry demands from concerned parents to get CUSD to respond.
Further evidence of the lack of CUSD support relates to the schools lack of a Facility Use agreement 18 months into operations. The school CUSD provided, Barcelona Elementary, is an older school in need of significant repair. Not only was OPA required to share this facility with an uncooperative Barcelona staff and students, but OPA is still unfunded and unable to renovate the facility.
Several students with severe allergies have had significant difficult with the unsanitary and allergic conditions at the school. The grounds are unkept, unmowed, and there does not appear to be any effort to help the school be on par with the excellence being achieved. It is vital that CUSD address the facility use agreement as well as develop a long-term plan to upgrade the grounds.
Finally, much of the frustration from the parents seemed to be related to a general resistance to the success of OPA. Obviously the teaching philosophy, the cooperation with parents, and the teachers themselves are having an impact. This should be a model for other schools to follow.
I find it interesting that despite the stunning success, OPA continually is “shot down” by not only its home district but surrounding districts who should be embracing this successful new model. Instead of being threatened, CUSD and surrounding districts should celebrate the innovations and the improvements in education that benefit student education instead of fighting for political position and influence. Kids first, right?
The education of children must remain the highest priority for our communities. New models and new ideas for education should be allowed and encouraged to thrive in Southern California. OPA clearly represents such an innovation. CUSD needs to fully support the entire OPA community by recognizing its achievements, providing for appropriate facility management, and sharing its success with the rest of the district.
Oxford Preparatory Academy